A GP has shared five symptoms of an unhealthy gut that you need to be on the lookout for and how to fix them. 

There are trillions of tiny microbes within your gut that make up a complex and incredibly important internal ecosystem known as the microbiome. 

We need to strike the right balance of good and bad bacteria in our digestive system - this is what Doctors refer to as gut health.

Practising GP, Dr Sameer Sanghvi from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor, has shared his expertise to help us understand what gut health is, why it is so important and how to look after ourselves.

Why is gut health important? 

“Around 70% of your immune cells are found in the gut," according to Dr Sanghvi.

The GP added: "What’s more, the bacteria in your gut is also responsible for producing necessary vitamins like vitamin B12. 

"This means that if the balance of bacteria isn’t as it should be, your immune response, physical health and even your mood can be affected.”

What affects your gut health? 

“The key to good gut health is ensuring the variety of bacteria present is carefully balanced," according to the Doctor.

He added: "There are a range of diet and lifestyle factors that can negatively affect the balance of bacteria in your digestive system.

"Stress levels, lack of sleep, a highly-processed diet and taking antibiotics can all have an impact.”

Dr Sanghvi has explained that if you have an imbalance of gut bacteria, and therefore, your gut isn’t functioning optimally, you may be more susceptible to sickness.

You could also experience a range of symptoms such as:

The Northern Echo: The signs of an unhealthy gut include an upset stomach and fatigue. ( Getty Images)The signs of an unhealthy gut include an upset stomach and fatigue. ( Getty Images) (Image: Getty Images)

What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?

Upset stomach 

“Experiencing frequent discomfort, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn could be a sign that your gut is having a hard time digesting and eliminating waste," the GP said.

Unintentional weight changes 

The expert added: “When your gut is imbalanced, your body may be struggling to absorb nutrients, store fat and regulate blood sugar therefore resulting in unexpected changes in weight.”


“An unhealthy gut can result in insomnia or poor sleep, resulting in feeling fatigued," according to Dr Sanghvi.

The Doctor continued: "Most of the body's serotonin (the hormone which affects mood and sleep) is produced in the gut.

"Therefore, when there is bacteria or inflammation, your sleep may be impacted too.”

Skin Irritation 

The GP also noted that some skin conditions such as acne and eczema can be a result of gut issues too.

Food intolerances 

“In some cases, food intolerances can be due to poor quality of bacteria in the gut. You can have intolerances if you struggle digesting certain foods," according to the expert.

How do you improve your gut health? 

The Northern Echo: Dr Sanghvi has explained how you can improve your gut health. ( Getty Images)Dr Sanghvi has explained how you can improve your gut health. ( Getty Images) (Image: Getty Images)

Diet is one of the most important contributors to gut health, according to Dr Sanghvi.

He went on to say: “Diet has a big role to play when it comes to improving gut health. The aim is to help introduce good bacteria in your gut while reducing the number of bad bacteria too. 

“Ultra-processed foods can impact your gut negatively. The best thing to do is eat a variety of plant-based foods.

"Try to “eat the rainbow”, ensuring your diet includes lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and legumes like beans and lentils. 

“It’s also important to make sure your diet includes prebiotics. These are foods that contain a specific type of fibre that feeds good bacteria in the gut. Examples of foods rich in prebiotics include bananas, pomegranate, oats, rye crackers, pistachios and garlic." 

The Doctor also suggested including probiotics in your diet too.

He added: "These are foods like natural yoghurt, kombucha and pickles which include live bacteria. It’s understood these can help improve the diversity of bacteria in your gut.” 

As much as diet is a big factor for good gut health, there are other things you can do to help improve gut health, Dr Sanghvi explained

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He commented: “Lowering stress levels, getting good quality sleep is equally important for maintaining a healthy microbiome. The same goes for staying hydrated.”

What should you do if you’re concerned about your gut health?

The Doctor has advised that if you are concerned about your gut health, there are methods of evaluating how well your digestive system is working,

For instance, you can monitor your bowel movements and symptoms.

He added: "If you are noticing drastic changes then you should talk to your GP.”